Computer Science's John Dickerson Receives NSF CAREER Award to Improve Market Systems Using Artificial Intelligence

A University of Maryland faculty member who combines computer science with economics has won a National Science Foundation (NSF) award to improve economic market systems using artificial intelligence (AI).

John Dickerson, an assistant professor of computer science with an appointment in the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS), is principal investigator of an NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award, which is expected to total $550,000 over five years.

The funding supports efforts by Dickerson to develop methods to improve existing market systems and enable new markets—specifically, so-called matching markets that cannot solely rely on price as a mechanism for matching supply and demand.

Due to logistical or societal constraints, many markets such as school choice, ridesharing, medical residency, advertising, cadaveric organ allocation, online labor, public housing, refugee placement, and kidney exchange cannot only rely on prices to match supply and demand. Instead, there are several variables and factors that determine how recipients are chosen.

Dickerson will develop scalable AI-based methods for designing and analyzing these types of markets. One method will focus on short-term uncertainty by making a decision about an environment before all of its data is available. Another method will balance fairness and efficiency through dynamic matching. A third area of research will incorporate human value judgements into automated systems.

This research will directly address problems in real-world matching systems. For example, in organ markets such as kidney and liver exchanges, it will lead to improvements in fairness, economic efficiency, and ethical alignment of objectives.

The project will also lay the groundwork for a redesign of the computer science faculty and postdoctoral job matching market. Additionally, it will begin developing principled systems to promote diversity in university admissions, as well as quantitative and technical hiring.

Open source software solutions created as a byproduct of this research will be made available to the public, and results will be shared with educators.

CAREER: Scalable and Robust Dynamic Matching Market Design(link is external)” supported by NSF grant #1846237 from the NSF’s Division of Information and Intelligent Systems.

PI: John Dickerson, assistant professor of computer science with an appointment UMIACS.

About the CAREER award: The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is an NSF activity that offers the foundation’s most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organization.

About the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences

The College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland educates more than 8,000 future scientific leaders in its undergraduate and graduate programs each year. The college's 10 departments and six interdisciplinary research centers foster scientific discovery with annual sponsored research funding exceeding $250 million.